2 Oct 2019

Fiji workshop aims to empower remote communities

1:01 pm on 2 October 2019

A workshop in Nadi this week is aiming to empower Fijians to learn more about their rights and how to use them.

Julie Vandassen of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Fiji.

Julie Vandassen of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Fiji. Photo: Supplied

The training is part of the Fiji Access to Justice Project by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU).

Workshop convener Julie Vandassen, of the UNDP, said empowering people from remote communities could bring about sustainable development in Fiji.

She said participants would be able to return to their communities promoting respect for human rights and access to justice.

"A lot of people can't travel farther distances. If you go to places like Rotuma, it can take 36 to 37 hours by boat to get to the nearest facilities.

"So, this is to ensure that the people across the country are aware of what rights and freedoms are available to them."

The workshop is titled 'Community Advocates for Human Rights and Access to Justice'.

The European Union's ambassador to Fiji, Sujiro Seam, told participants respecting human rights was an essential element of democracy.

He said the EU recognised and promoted civil society and their programmes in raising awareness of human rights.

That, he said, also strengthened a culture of rights and freedoms in the community.

The Fiji Legal Aid Commission said in a statement it was important Fijians openly talk about the issue.

Acting director Shahin Lal said they provided legal services on civil, criminal and family laws.

"Particularly to those who are unable to exercise their right to access justice for economic reasons."

He said participants would be able to talk about human rights with confidence to members of the community "in a way that they will understand and embrace it".

The workshop ends on Friday.

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